Bacon Broccoli Cheese Soup

Bacon Broccoli Cheese Soup

May in the Northwest is a daily manic swing through every weather event possible-or so it seems.
Flip-flop wearing, shorts sporting, put all your tomatoes in the garden 75F days are immediately followed by snailing (snow hailing) thunderstorms that dump 4 inches of white stuff on the lawn and overnight frosts.
Tomatoes in Oregon that actually produce fruit?  Usually the second or third plant to go in that particular garden spot…or at least that’s the case in my garden.

This soup is the perfect dinner on chilly, bi-polar spring nights.
Rich and creamy, fresh broccoli pairs with bright orange carrots, crisp bacon and tangy sharp cheddar cheese for a wrap-your-fingers-around-a-warm-bowl way to fill your belly.

Bake a batch of Sea Salt & Butter Topped Whole Wheat Rolls to slather with butter and mop up the last little bits of broth in the bowl. This is spoon slurping, bowl licking good!

Bacon Broccoli Cheese Soup

3 lbs fresh broccoli florets, stems removed and roughly chopped
1 lb carrots, peeled and diced
1 yellow onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
8 cups chicken stock or bone broth
1 Tblsp Montreal Steak Seasoning or salt and pepper to taste
1 Tblsp poultry seasoning
2 tsp paprika
3 Tblsp flour
3 Tblsp bacon grease or butter (separated)
2 cups whole milk
2-3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup whipping cream or half and half (if desired)

1/2 lb bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled-for topping on soup

In a stock pot over medium high heat, saute broccoli, carrots, onion and garlic in one tablespoon bacon fat or butter until onion and garlic are soft and broccoli and carrots just begin to brown.
Add chicken stock and seasonings.
Reduce heat to low and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

In a separate saucepan, over medium low heat, melt remaining two tablespoons of bacon fat or butter. Whisk in flour.  Cook and stir for 4-5 minutes until mixture turns light golden brown, creating a roux.
Stirring continuously, slowly pour in whole milk and whisk until sauce is thickened.

Add sauce to vegetables and broth and stir well to combine.  Using an immersion blender, puree soup to desired texture.

Slowly add cheddar cheese, stirring well between additions to ensure that cheese has evenly melted.

Bring soup back up to simmer and then remove from heat.
If creamier texture is desired, add 1 cup whipping cream or half and half just before serving.

Top with crumbled bacon and serve.

Serves 8-10